Emas NP, undoubtedly the wildlife jewel in the cerrado’s crown, is 8 hour drive from Cuiaba, on the north-eastern edge of the Pantanal. The area is relatively flat and criss-crossed by a network of dirt roads and fire breaks along which you travel in four-wheel drive vehicles. There is a lot to see, including giant anteaters, peccaries, armadillos, maned wolves as well as a multitude of birds including Greater Rheas, macaws, toucans and numerous birds of prey perching on the many termite mounds.
Here, the entire ecosystem is driven by fire and water, the patterns of grass, scrub and trees determined by when the previous bush fire passed through and when it last rained. The seasons are marked, half a year each of wet and dry, but fires aside, there is little change in the landscape from one half of the year to the other – the grass is simply green in the wet season and brown in the dry. In the wet season, from October to March, mornings are clear, but in the afternoon clouds build up; the atmosphere is hot and humid, and it rains almost daily. From April to September, the dry season brings blue skies with handfuls of white fluffy clouds. It is hot during the day, but the nights are cold, clear and sharp.
The Emas NP grasslands, however, are not dominated by large herbivores. Aside from a few pampas deer and tapirs, the antelope of the Serengeti and the buffalo of the American prairies are replaced here by ants and termites. They are the main grazers, and it is these tiny creatures, working together as superorganisms, that drive the entire ecosystem. At Emas NP, there are 90 known species of termites, and as far as the eye can see, there are termite mounds. The mud walls of these mounds are a hard as concrete, and inside there are interconnecting passageways and galleries with walls of softer chewed wood.
At the beginning of the rainy season (October and November) as darkness falls, however, you gradually become aware that the termite mounts are covered in myriad luminous specks, like the lights of a high-rise office block. Closer examination reveals that the tiny pinpoints of light are produced by the larvae of a beetle (Pyrearinus termitilluminans) with a luminous tip to its abdomen. Each termite mound has hundreds of larvae living in its outer skin.
With such a large number of ant and termites colonies on the plains, it is not surprising to find one or two larger animals that exploit them as food. The biggest of these predators is the Giant Anteater, and those individuals living on the cerrado have a preference for termites rather than ants.
If this is not enough, Emas NP is also the destination for one of the most rare and beautiful nightjars in the Neotropics: the enigmatic and Critically Endangered White-winged Nightjar. Until fairly recently, known only from two museum specimens dating from 1820's. This species was reported only from three sites anywhere in South America this century! Aguara Ñu in Reserva Natural del Bosque Mbaracayú, E Paraguay, where up to 20 pairs discovered in suitable habitat during September-December 1995. Male captured at Beni Biological Station in N Bolivia in September 1987 suggests possibly of a population in this area, though not recorded there again as yet. And at Emas National Park in central Brazil where we manage to see them in every single tour we go there.
Birding open grasslands and cerrado offer possibilities to spot Red-winged Tinamou, Spotted and Lesser Nothura, Greater Rhea, Red-legged Seriema, Yellow-faced Amazon, Peach-fronted Parakeet, Fork-tailed Palm-Swift, Campo Miner, Pale-breasted & Sooty-fronted Spinetails, Rufous-winged Antshrike, Cock-tailed Tyrant, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Gray Monjita, White-rumped Monjita, Collared Crescent-chest, Black-masked Finch, Bearded Tachuri, Sharp-tailed Grass-Tyrant, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Grass Wren, White-rumped & White-banded Tanager, Yellow-rumped Marshbird and a good array of seedeaters among them Plumbeous, Marsh, Chesnut, Pearly-bellied, Copper, Tawny-bellied, Black-bellied and many more.
Birding gallery forest produces Pale-crested Woodpecker, Planalto FoliageGleaner, White-striped Warbler, Large-billed Antwren, Plain Antvireo, Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, Helmeted Manakin, Flavescent Warbler, Sepia-capped Flycatcher, Rufous Casiornis, Guira Tanager, Fawn-breasted Tanager, Thick-billed Euphonia, Fuscous Flycatcher, Pale-breasted Thrush, and many more.
Birding nights deserves a good array of species such as: Striped Owl, Short-eared Owl, Barn Owl, Tropical Screech-Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, White-winged Nightjar, Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Spot-tailed Nightjar, Least Nighthawk, Nacunda Nighthawk, Pauraque.
This is not a destination just for birders, but also for mammals seekers and wildlife photographers, Emas NP boast with the Pantanal of Mato Grosso, the fame of best mammals watching spot in South America. An array of mammals such as Giant and Collared Anteaters, Maned Wolf, Pampas and Marsh Deers, Brazilian Tapir, White-lipped & Collared Peccary, Hoary Fox, Crab-eating Fox, Bush Dog, Puma Jaguarundi, Pampas Cat, Pampas Skank, Brown Capuchin Monkey, and Giant, Southern Naked-tailed, Yellow, Nine-banded and Sevenbanded Armadillos were seen and photographed in our tours since our scouting trip in August 2000. We still need to see the largest predator Jaguar, but we are trying every tour.
Chapada dos Guimaraes NP is situated near the western rim of Brazil's Planalto Central – a land of beautifully eroded and fractured red rim rock formations, drained by spectacular waterfalls and dissected by deep ravines containing fingers of Amazonian forest. The surrounding countryside is cerrado.
Although sharing some cerrado avifauna with Emas NP, the Chapada region is home to many highly localized species that we won't see at Emas NP. The most memorable aspects may be the scenic canyons with rich tropical forest and screaming macaws.
Most birding in-and-out of our vehicle, with short walks along roads, trails in gallery forest, or into grasslands; easy terrain; full mornings in the field, usually returning to lodge for lunch and midday break, followed by late afternoons back in the field; some night drives; moderate to warm temperatures and relatively dry climate.
Guide and driver team
During our tours at Emas NP, we always use a team of two people, despite the number of participants. Each one has an important role during the Safari. The driver is paying attention on the road and condition of the bridges while the guide is spotting birds and wildlife for your enjoyment. Each one working at their best and doing what they are supposed to do better.
Quality of our guides
Our tour leaders are experienced and fully trained professionals who host our guest in a variety of diverse areas. These dedicated people transform an already great safari into one that is out of this world! A guide that hosts you for the duration of your safari provides a consistent, detailed interpretation that is tailored to your specific interests. Our safaris are led by our local naturalist tour leaders, they are equipped with 20-60X spotting telescope for seeing distant animals, recording equipment, shotgun microphone and voice library for luring in rare and hard to see animals that respond to their own call bringing them into view, a spotlight for nocturnal viewing, and the appropriate bird, mammal identification books and updated checklist for your enjoyment.
Our tour uses hotels which serve early breakfast and then we can go birding. All lodges offer rooms with private facilities and air-conditioning. We try to use lodges operated by locals because we firmly believe your money must to go to local hands because are those hands who hold the future of the region.
Open safari vehicle at Emas NP
When it comes to wildlife viewing, open vehicles are the way to go. When on safari in an open vehicle there is nothing between you and the Cerrado’s wilderness and wildlife. Sounds are more easily heard, smells are easier to pick up, and most importantly it is far easier to take photos and follow animals as they move around. Closed vehicles are not ideal for wildlife viewing. When quoting for a safari with some other company, ask if they will provide a full time open vehicle privately for your safari.
25 years of Experience
Nearly three decades dedicated to show the Pantanal to different travelers from all over the world! We know the Pantanal as we know our backyard
This quick message is to thank you for all your guiding expertise during our trip; you did a superb job, and I was delighted to be with you. I had no idea we were getting as knowledgeable a leader as you certainly are!. I certainly hope we can do something like it again, soon.
Dr. Robert S. Ridgely, Author of "The Birds of South America Vol. I and II" and "A Guide to the Birds of Panama", Senior Research Ornithologist at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia